Posted : 2013-10-10 18:12
Updated : 2013-10-10 18:12

Controversial Jogye sect leader re-elected

By Kim Tong-hyung

Ven. Jaseung
Ven. Jaseung, the controversial leader of the country's largest Buddhist order, Jogye, was reelected for a second term on Thursday after a close vote that confirmed a deepened rift between the incumbent and reformists.

The 59-year-old, who was first elected to a four-year-term in 2009, garnered 179 of the 311 votes among eligible Jogye leaders participating in the election held at the Memorial Hall for the History and Culture of Korean Buddhism in central Seoul. His closest rival and harsh critic Ven. Boseon got 129 votes.

Ven. Jaseung is the first chief monk to land a second term since the order reformed its election system in 1994 to limit the terms to two. He now faces the tall task of navigating Jogye's thousands of temples across the country, sharply divided after months of discontent. He has been involved in a slew of corruption and misconduct scandals in the past years that have tarnished the image of Buddhism and increased the calls for his exit.

Ven. Jaseung seemed to be cruising toward a second term until a gambling scandal erupted last year. After being expelled from the Jogye Order following a feud, Ven. Seongho released a video clip that showed eight monks from the Baekyang Temple playing poker in a hotel room with hundreds of millions of won at stake. The monks were also drinking and smoking heavily.

Ven. Seongho also went on a radio show and claimed that Ven. Jaseung and Ven. Myungjin, another well known monk, were rewarded by an influence peddler with drinks and sex in 2001. Ven. Myungjin admitted going to a ''room salon,'' or hostess bar, with Ven. Jaseung, but claimed no one was buying them sex.

Critics like Ven. Boseon and members of the Korean Association of Seon Center Spiritual Directors, which represents around 2,000 monks from 96 Jogye temples, had been spearheading the campaigns against Ven. Jaseung.

The leader of the Jogye doubles as one of the most influential figures in Korean society, having the authority to name head monks at the order's 2,500 temples and managing an annual budget of over 40 billion won (about $40 million).

관련 한글 기사

자승 총무원장 94년 조계종 개혁 이후 첫 연임

34대 총무원장에 재선

대한불교조계종 제34대 총무원장에 현직인 자승 스님이 당선됐다.

자승 스님은 10일 서울 견지동 한국불교역사문화기념관에서 치러진 조계종 총무원장 선거에서 임기 4년의 차기 원장에 다시 선출됐다. 311명의 선거인단 가운데 과반인 179표를 얻었다.

현 총무원장인 자승 스님은 1994년 조계종 종단 개혁 이후 총무원장 가운데 첫 연임 기록을 세우게 됐다.

자승 스님은 중앙종회 의원과 조계종 총무원 총무부장, 중앙종회 의장 등을 거쳤으며, 조계종 종책모임 불교광장의 추대를 받았다. 1972년 해인사에서 지관 스님을 계사로 사미계를, 1974년 범어사에서 석암 스님을 계사로 구족계를 받았다.

지난해 백양사 도박 사태 등으로 도덕성 논란이 일면서 일부에서 불출마 요구를 받아왔지만 이를 극복하고 당선됐다.

조계종 총무원장은 전국 사찰 2천500여 곳, 스님 1만4천여 명이 속한 한국 불교 최대 종단인 조계종의 행정을 총괄한다.

본ㆍ말사 주지 임명권과 연간 400억원의 총무원 예산 집행권, 종단 소속 사찰의 재산감독 및 처분 승인권 등을 갖는다. 또 중앙승가대를 포함한 승가학원 이사장과 조계종 사회복지재단 이사장, 한국불교종단협의회 회장 등을 당연직으로 맡는다.



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